About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married, with spectacular stepdaughter, crazy dog, and cat living in the Capital District of New York State.

Holy Thursday ¡Presente!

Today we celebrate Holy Thursday and we remember the martyrdom of Blessed Oscar Romero. ¡Presente! – this is a term is meant to say that they who once were are with us now. So it is with Christ our Savior and with all those who have gone before us.

a-young-romero-celebrating-mass

A young Bl. Oscar Romero celebrates mass

Let us look at the words found in one of the Eucharistic Prayers that are used at mass in the Catholic church. They speak to what we do on Holy Thursday, and what we do every time we celebrate liturgy.

He always loved those who were his own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you, his heavenly Father, he showed the depth of his love.

While they were at supper, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.

In the same way, he took the cup, filled with wine. He gave you thanks, and giving the cup to his disciples, said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

Take this,” Jesus said, “all of you, and eat it.” These words are powerful, a reminder of the real presence we know today. Christ made real and present, as Flannery O’Connor once famously said, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”  That’s why on Holy Thursday, punctuated this year by the anniversary of Blessed Oscar Romero’s death, the real should be very clear to us. Things were very real for Romero as he was martyred while offering mass in El Salvador on this day in 1984. Make no mistake, we do not need martyrs for any
“real” to happen.

Today let us live deeply the meaning of eucharist, which is rooted in eucharistia, or thanksgiving. Let us live deeply that thanksgiving for the life of Christ, the lives of the saints and martyrs, meaning those known to us, and those unknown. Many an unnamed saint is an anonymous person to the world, but a treasure to God. Everything we do is very real, may the real presence of Jesus nourish us all, and give us strength.

(If you are in the Albany, NY area please join us for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Roman Catholic Community of St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park at 7:30pm. All are truly welcome.)

Mixed messages

pietro_di_giovanni_dambrogio__entry_into_jerusalem__1435-40__pinacoteca_stuard_parmaPalm Sunday is here and once again we hear the familiar story of The Passion retold; we will hear it again on Friday. Today we also hear of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with cries of “Hosanna! Hosanna!” It won’t be long Continue reading

A Perfect and Generous Love – a guest post

Today’s post comes to us from guest blogger and first time contributor to our blog, Susan Francesconi of The Good Disciple. We welcome her with great joy!

buds 3416 3rd Lent copyMarch 4, 2016: Friday of The Third Week Of Lent

It happens every year about this time, give or take a couple of weeks. Of course, I am talking about the midpoint of Lent, but I’m also talking about the change of seasons. Lent, like spring, is a time of conversion, of reawakening, of planting new seeds, of grace-filled turnings, returnings, and reconciliations.

Around the fourth week of our Lenten practice, new spiritual growth emerges like tender buds urged on by shortened nights. We carefully push back the winter mulch and beckon the sun’s warming rays.

This morning as I walked my dog, a neighbor who I pass every day remarked: “you look happy this morning.” He was right; I know I had joy written all over my face. The birds seemed to chant, Come out! Come out! Squirrels giddily complied, springing crazily from tree to tree, dropping to the ground, and diving in and out of unraked leaves. I spied a family of eight wild turkeys jauntily making their way up a neighbor’s drive. Upon my return I searched the back of my garden for surprises, something I do every morning now. Two days ago I noticed a few snowdrops pushing through the mulch; today I saw hundreds waving their happy little heads in the breeze.

On days like this, when Continue reading

Pilgrim update

cropped-singlestepheader32It has been awhile since I have posted anything about my camino, so I thought I would pop in with an update, and to ask about any prayers or intentions you would like to send to me.

At this moment in time we are about 200 days out from departure, give or take. That number sounds comfortingly far away at some level, and terrifyingly close at another level! The good news is that I have been much more active this winter than any prior winter. The bad news is that I am not sure I have been active enough, but I’m trying. Today I did about 7.5 miles and 19 flights of stairs. What worries me is 7.5 miles with a 15 pound pack on my back!

One of my biggest concerns, and this could be the dealbreaker, will be Continue reading

Catholics for Trump?

Hello readers – I have a question for you. Are any of you Catholics who support Donald Trump? I am not asking this in order to bash you and break you, I am honestly curious. If I get some good and legitimate replies, I will write more about this. Honestly, it is beyond my understanding, but I’m asking to learn more.

In order to avoid comment wars, I will ask you to comment in order to get your reply, but know that I will not publish any of the comments. Your email addresses show up for me, so I may send you a note for clarification.

If you know someone who has found a way to reconcile their Catholic faith and Trump, please pass this along to them. As I said, I do not get it, but I have questions and I do not want to fight. There is a Facebook page called Catholics for Donald Trump, but I am not sure I would trust that as a resource. There does not appear to be any group with a website; well not just yet anyway.

Please know that your confidentiality is assured unless you wish to be revealed should I write further about this topic. Thanks.

PS – People who do not love Trump, I know you do not love him. Please bear with me here!

Walls or bridges?

Build-bridges-not-walls_small

Why haven’t you written something on your blog about Pope Francis and Donald Trump? As the Catholic blogger for the Times Union, don’t you have a responsibility to write about these things?”  The question arrived in the form of an email from an acquaintance and took me by surprise.

As it happens, I am not the only Catholic blogger on the Religion/Beliefs corner of the TU blog platform. My friend, former grad school classmate Walter Ayers is present in that space as well. And I do not bear any responsibility to do anything. It goes like this – the paper asked if I would blog on their platform four years ago and I agreed. If I stop blogging, the newspaper police burst through my door and drag me before my “blog boss” Michael Huber, who is the Interactive Audience Manager for the paper. In fact, I have so few obligations, I keep this platform up, my “home” space, and the newspaper blog is a mirror.

That reply to my acquaintance generated another question. “Don’t you care about what is happening?” Oh I do, trust me – I Continue reading

Are we listening?

transfigurationToday’s Gospel, in which we hear Luke’s Transfiguration, says many important things – as do all of the Gospels. Remember, a word is never wasted in Scripture! But for today, I want to focus on this one point.

“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

Lately, I am pretty certain that we are not listening, and I am as guilty as anyone. As a big proponent of social media in both my personal and ministerial lives, I am often out there. Trust me, I do try to be charitable – emphasis, try. I can think of one person I seriously offended recently, and that was completely unintentional. I can only imagine others who may not have spoken up.

Yesterday was an ugly free for all out in the Twitterverse. Now Facebook is one thing, and while it can get Continue reading